New York authorities just took a blade to the city's tourist helicopter industry: In an agreement that was jointly announced by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Helicopter Tourism and Jobs Council, helicopter operating companies agreed to reduce flights by about 50% annually within a year.
All tourist flights would end on Sundays beginning April 1. Overall flights would be reduced by 20% by June 1 and 40% by Oct. 1, and by January 17, the downtown heliport that used to support 59,000 flights a year would be limited to 30,000 flights.
The New York Times reports that the helicopter tour industry spent more than $200,000 in lobbying fees to keep New York City from ending flights completely, and as a result, a compromise was reached that halved the flights.
Opponents of the copters say the compromise doesn't solve the issue.
“So instead of a flight every two minutes, it will be one every four minutes," quipped the leader of one anti-chopper group.
New York City's tourist helicopters charge $150 per person for 15 minutes in the air; no word yet if that price will have to increase once flights are reduced.
Chopper flights are fun to take, but ultimately they're a case of the pleasure of a few impacting the pleasure of many. New York City's waterways, over which helicopters fly, are crowded with residences and parks that have to contend with the noise and disruption.
Now if only we could curtail copters at all of the world's other tourist destinations. Nothing wrecks the primal beauty of the Grand Canyon quite like the deafening rumble of a chopper chartered by a few Las Vegas high rollers.
Photo credit: Liberty Helicopters